The merger mania sweeping Europe is set to continue, with huge deals likely to be hatched in the coming months, according to top-level corporate officials. Following the 16 billion euro (about HK$140.21 billion) deal between Societe Generale and Paribas on Monday, DaimlerChrysler co-chairman Robert Eaton, who himself presided over last year's merger between Daimler-Benz and Chrysler, said many more companies - including those outside the car industry - would seek to join the consolidation trend as competition became increasingly fierce. His comments were echoed by Deutsche Bank chief executive Rolf-Ernst Breuer, who recently took control of the US investment bank Bankers Trust, and who broadly hinted that the bank was about to strike a partnership with Banca Commerciale Italiana (BCI). Mr Eaton said: 'I believe that mixed marriages like ours are going to be very common going forward. Indeed I believe they will be inevitable. That is not to say they will be easy. Many will fail.' As a result of the past environment in Europe, where virtually every leading country had its own national car-manufacturing industry, the different cultures and deep-rooted management styles inevitably present at each company, would mean that it is increasingly difficult for companies to gel in an effective manner. 'International mergers like ours will, I believe, be a disappointment to those who look past those differences and don't see the hard work that is necessary to make the combinations succeed,' Mr Eaton said. But most executives believe the merger trend will continue and Mr Breuer said his bank's own acquisition ambitions had not been fulfilled. 'We have a strategy and the strategy has not finalised and does not come to an end with the acquisition of Bankers Trust. There is much more to do,' he said. 'But it depends on opportunities. Bankers Trust was an opportunity. It opened in the middle of the year due to outside events partly, and partly to internal developments and we had to seize it. 'You cannot restrict yourself to making a . . . plan on paper and wait until you are ready. The market shows you when you have to be ready,' Mr Breuer said. He said he still believed BCI would make a good partner for the bank. Deutsche Bank already has a small stake in BCI, but Mr Breuer said the bank had to decide in which direction it wanted to go itself, indicating it was already in talks with several other sector rivals. Deutsche Bank also does not rule out making acquisitions in France, where it feels its presence is not large enough, but admits the French authorities are less keen to lose national control and prefer domestic mergers before ceding control of their banking institutions to outside shareholders. 'I think we are just at the start of this consolidation process in banking . . . I do think that eventually in [terms] of size, volume, importance and businesses five to 10 really European banks will have this size,' Mr Breuer said. 'Others will find niches were they can develop their special talents and be very profitable and successful.'